A Good Bye

15 May a good bye

You act like
I’ll always be here
to hold you
And I will
in the marrow
of my memory
of who is me
But never again
in my arms
legs
or mind
Not until
we are stars
again
I hope this has been
a good
bye

a good bye

 

To The Ones That Stay: How To Support Grieving Parents

12 May help

20140219-071830.jpg

It goes without saying that everything changes for a parent when a child dies.  There are the obvious ways it affects our day to day living initially;  the brutal ache, the reminders, the change in routine, the unnerving quiet, the pained looks from well-meaning friends and family who have no idea what to say or do. (Check my FB post here for help on helping a loved one who is grieving) Then, there comes a second wave of changes because of the ways the first changes affect us.

Because grief is so varied and personal, there is no “normal” or “right” way to grieve, except to feel your way through it. This means people actively trying to move through and express their pain show it in a wide variety of ways outside of the behaviors people are used to seeing. We aren’t “Fine” and everyone knows it. There’s no sense in pretending- we’re in the middle of grokking how short and unpredictable life is, and the difference between what we have planned and worked for and the cold reality that’s been (supremely unfairly) swapped in its place.

Performing a song and dance to make someone else comfortable has vanished from our repertoire and people who need a lot of singing and dancing around every hard fact are going to have a hard time coping with grief- their own, or anyone else’s. Facing and embracing the reality of loss is inherently be painful, uncomfortable, strange, and can be off-putting for everyone involved, including the people experiencing it. We like normal. We like comfortable. We like safe. Those feelings are inherently human- but so is grief, which is none of those things… if anything, it’s is their complete opposite.

Grief is- and the actively grieving are commonly perceived as- vulnerable and unpredictable; two facets of life it seems everyone spends theirs trying to avoid. We do everything we can to predict and protect our emotions, our health, our lives and those of our children. Those of us suffering the loss of a pregnancy, infant or child are forced to stand in the mirror and have fully splayed before ourselves and the world before us that our best efforts have failed. Life looked into our pleading hearts and said, “Nope.”

That is our reality. It’s something we have to learn to carry and live with.

I still don’t want to touch that feeling with a ten foot pole… yet I, like all bereaved parents, am forced to walk hand in hand with those feelings on a day-to-day basis. We can’t forget. (Unless we medicate ourselves into oblivion, but that’s another post entirely. You can read about my original choices here and my current choices here.) Even with all the medication and meditation in the world, we can’t walk away from our experience and we wouldn’t want to. That pain is our love turned inside out, two sides of the same attachment. To let go of one is to let go of both, and we choose to hold on. We choose love and the accompanying inconceivable pain that is coming to terms with difference between that love’s highest hopes and our empty arms; it fills lifetimes.

“Grief is the price we pay for love.”

Queen Elizabeth

My 14 month old son died just over three years ago for no reason anyone, anywhere can understand. With SUDC (Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood) as with SIDS, it means no doctor, coroner, detective, toxicologist or forensic analyst can find a single reason for the child’s passing. SIDS/SUDC parents’ grief is coupled with the weight of others’ speculation, assumption and retroactive judgment of our parenting choices.

Everyone wants to know who or what to blame so they can predict and protect the lives of their own children and separate themselves from us and our hurt, thinking, “That would never happen to me because…” Trust me, I used to have thoughts like that, too. Except the existence of SUDC means no cause, no cure. The only thing to be done is to use what time you’re given with your children and each other wisely, lovingly, carefully and hope faith or fate don’t come to test you, too.

dark moments

True friends will learn to get over their fears and show up in our lives the same as we have to learn to do the same for ourselves. There will be people who come out of the woodwork that we’d nearly forgotten we have, simply to be the friends they’ve always been and show their love and appreciation for us. We will never forget these people. On our own deathbeds, we will not forget these people. Yet a greater number will slip through the cracks. They have the choice to just walk away from the pain, and no one understands embracing that choice more than we do… but it always adds more shock and hurt to the pile.

To the ones that stay:

Simple daily tasks like eating, doing laundry, taking a shower or a walk may fall by the wayside. Help us with these things. Yes, you may witness some strong emotions while in our presence. We have those, as anyone in our situation would. Conversely, you may witness a complete ghost of a person who seemingly has no emotions at all. We may disconnect and not return messages or answer the phone, seem fine because we want to remember what the hell that even feels like for a fleeting moment, lash out, not be able to answer simple questions, need company, need solitude, need to talk, simply need to be quiet and not questioned or any combination of any of those things at any given time. Just be there. We are friends for a reason, now is the time to make that apparent.

If we aren’t proximal, sending messages and texts are helpful. but can also get overwhelming- I turned my phone off for several hours/days at a time, several times. Find other ways of interacting physically- our worlds are teenytiiiinyy minuscule little bubbles and everything we can’t immediately touch basically doesn’t exist; shock will do that to you. Send a gift card for a massage, a bottle of our favorite alcohol, flowers, a card, a silly trinket, something in memorium… the options are nearly limitless, but find a way for something to physically show up in your place, even if it’s words on a napkin- even that can help us with our tears in more than one way.

To everyone: keep trying. It’s not you, it’s us- and we need you now more than ever. Think of us as in emotional & spiritual ICU- and not just for the first few days, weeks, or even months. If we had lost a limb, no one would ask if we’re “over it” or would tell us to move on. They would recognize that our entire world and thinking need adapting, and that it is going to be a long, grueling and painful process; well, we haven’t simply lost a limb, we’ve lost all the limbs, the entirety of the earthly presence and core of a little human we are vested in and adore and we’ll have to learn to compensate for that absence for the rest of our lives. Right now, we’re particularly raw and sore; we can’t even think about rehabilitation on any level, we just have to live while somehow our children did not.

Society is filled with quips and quotes people assume can help us feel better, but though we understand and appreciate the thought behind them, a lot of times what’s being said is unintentionally passive-aggressive, blaming, shaming, or hurtful. I can tell you now, nothing you say or feel is going to stand in our fire.  We can’t help it. Some of us even carry additional blame and shame because we want, we expect those things to help or be meaningful in some way, and they just don’t fit the bill.

Guess what? We wanted, we expected our children to live. Our outrageous feelings and expressions, faith and prayers fell helpless in saving the lives of our children. In the same way, yours fall helpless at the feet of our grief. It’s just the way it is; there’s nothing to say. It fucking sucks.

I’m not saying to not express your own grief at our losses- in fact, nothing could be more important for both of our grief processes. It means something to us that you are moved by our loss, truly. But your sadness belongs to you. (Read more on “How not to say tsilk ringhe wrong thing“) We don’t need more grief on our plate to manage, we have enough. We have more than any one person should ever have to bear, ever.

What we do need is empathetic connection, not sympathy. We need compassion. We need help, and in ways we can’t even fathom because someone just turned out the lights in our world, and it’s going to take a while before our vision can adjust to the darkness.


Things we’ve heard that are NOT helpful:

“At least you (can) have other kids…”  Are you kidding me? Tell me, which one of your children is replaceable? There’s no return counter at the pearly gates where you can walk up and say, “Excuse me, I need to  exchange this boy… I endured 9+ months of wicked hyperemesis and bent my life to fulfill his every need- I’ve paid the price. I’m owed a working model.” Or I would BE there and demand they restore my original model. Except I don’t believe in pearly gates, which brings me to another list of things I hear all the time that aren’t exactly helpful.

When you tell us, “God needed another angel.” We don’t have the strength to look you in the eye and say, “Then why didn’t He fucking MAKE instead on taking one?! If you’re okay with that logic, why can’t He have one of yours instead? No? Then why is it okay that He has mine? I’m not “chosen” or “given only what I can handle”, I’m viscerally heartbroken and livid and I deserve my child.

When you say, “I don’t know how you do it. I couldn’t. I would die…” we don’t have it in us to tell you, “I died the second my child was gone. I wish I could finish dying so the hurt would stop, but I just get to LIVE WITH THIS for years and years and years until I join them and I have no inherent coping skills for this because I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO FUCKING NEED THEM. So yeah, of course you don’t know how I do it. Neither do I. I just manage not to die every day. On that note, please bring tacos when you visit so that I eat and we have something (“normal”) to do in the meanwhile while we figure this horrible fuckery out.”

In short:

  • Show up: Your presence counts. It’s enough.
  • Hush up: Not to be rude or tell you not to speak -at all- but there’s nothing to be said that helps. Also, we need room the think and speak. Lots of it. See former statement.
  • Clean up: Loss is overwhelming. Watching our lives, then houses fall to shit because of it doesn’t help. You can help -and have something valuable to do while trying to figure out WTF to say- by picking up.
  • Bring tacos: If your friends need an explanation for this, please reassess said friendship. Okay, really though: On top of cleaning, eating goes by the wayside. Bring us something yummy, and maybe different than last time. Please and thanks.

This has been a Public Service Announcement. 

help

Columbus

2 May

You think
you’ve discovered me
that you’re going to inform me
of my label
who I’ve been
who I am
but I’ve been here
hundreds of years
and it’s quite clear
that I don’t require
your validation
or interpretation
to continue existing
because
I am
what I always have been
no matter what I am to you

Candy Crush

29 Feb

I told you
that I loved you
ten thousand times
with my eyes
before it fell
from my lips
How I’ve suffered
without words or touch
from yours

But I’ve lived
and I’ve made do
constructed a life
to live without you
and I even thought
it could work
until I realized
holding space for you
never has
because
you never show up

I can’t play
Candy Crush
and pass the time
on colorful
distracting things
pictures of sweets
and pretend
that’s what you’ve been
to me
when this is
nothing close
to a game
if only because
games are for
people who agree
to play by
the
same
rules

*

Originally written 12/7/14

Clear

29 Feb

It seems clear
a still pond in the morning
temporary escape
idyllic picture in your head
that makes you want to stay

But when you jump in
everything muddles
around you
the ripple effects
carry on
things and those you love
have no choice
but to be pushed
away

At first the cool is refreshing
contrast to burning questions
with answers that sear
but it gets cold
it gets old
spending all of your energy
trying to keep your head
above what you dove into
and forget
standing on land and
those on the shore
at all
watching you struggle
where we can’t go
or save you

I can’t wait
I can’t stay
watching causes
too much pain
but I will leave
a piece of me
where you can see
here
so when you come up
for air
you’ll know
I’ve been there
and then
bring it to me
when you’re dry

The Artist

28 Feb

Meet me at the place
where your love
for yourself
slightly outweighs
your love for
your family
and me
for sour and spicy things
for drawing
and ways to escape

Meet me
with eyes
and no words
where we know that
we’re heard
honestly
without shame
this is not
a fucking game
but the ball
is fully
in your court
and I can’t afford
to play
with a healing heart

Meet me dead center
with things that you say
and do
Not with pictures you paint
as truth
all my heart wants
is you
but
you asked for my trust
yours part substituted
for lust
and I love me
and you
more than enough
to draw a line
though you’re
The Artist

Until I’m met
with congruency
you’ll get my truancy
from this
with my best
and a kiss while I go
I adore you
and so
I can’t stay
no matter
what breaks
for us both
in the process
or what it takes
to heal

So please
please
please
meet me
in priorities
integrity
empathy
accountability
and love
so much love
because
I’ve already gone
as far my anchors
to them
and arms for you
will reach

Unwise Whys

27 Feb

Is it my need for presence
that promotes your absence?
My forward honesty
the fabric for your
loophole manipulations?
Is it her face you see
when you’re holding me
or is it that
I am the everything
you’ve wished she was
and that you find that
terrifying?

How can you just
not speak
and watch yourself
break my heart
while it’s already breaking itself
again?
The moment I slip
you lose your grip
and kick me
while and because
I’m down
You’ve gotten your boots
muddied again
and you need a place
with a welcome mat
to come home to
that space I hold
for you

So why would you
let go?
What does it take for you
to speak or mind?
No poetry or rhyme
no amount of time
no realization
or action
can find
it’s way through
the labyrinth of you

that
you remind me of the babe
hurts me in a place
where I know that
I can never reach you
unless you find a way
to reach out from the fray
in your thoughts
heart and mind
to where
you know
I stay

Originally written 2/3/15

I Am Not Anti-Circumcision

26 Feb

I am not anti-circumcision.

Really, I’m not. I’m not against any particular type of surgery- that idea is downright silly. Science has allowed us to make huge life saving, comfort-making leaps in how we’re able to respond to and care for our bodies and that fact should be both valued and employed as often as possible; it makes no sense to deny that type of progress. If your body experiences a problem that can be solved by advances in western medicine, by all means, utilize it. (Assuming you have affordable healthcare, but that’s another story altogether)

I am also not anti-tattoo, anti-piercing or anti-augmentation of whatever floats your boat as a consenting adult. Your body, your rights. What I am very strongly against is the routine circumcision of infant males in America and the framing of it as harmless and helpful by professionals and society.

There’s a difference.

We take time to learn about best pregnancy foods and delivery methods, then diapers, breastfeeding, formulas, car seats, cosleeping, immunizations, babywearing, first foods, etc, etc, etc about our babies- but we systematically and casually remove not only something completely functional, but one of the most sensitive parts of our son’s bodies within 72 hours of life with highly questionable anesthetic and without question itself? What?!

It doesn’t make sense not to learn about. If you’ve been holding back from learning about routine infant circumcision (RIC), I encourage to ask yourself why and remind you that there is absolutely no shame in education.

Let me take a minute for people new/hesitant to this subject or who might be afraid of feeling regret– those of you not in that category, feel free to scroll through the starred section and get right to the information.

*****

forgive

“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”  Joe Klaas

I get why some may choose not to identify with intactivism or its extremists, truly. I’d have been cut if I were born male in 1980. If my first son’s father wasn’t intact, I may have made a different choice with him that would have impacted my next two boys differently. In allowing my past self space to have possibly made that choice under different circumstances, I have to have empathy for those that have.

A huge amount of compassion is owed to those that didn’t know better sooner and would have chosen differently, which is why I write now. Space is also owed for those that are happily circumcised or would choose to repeat their choice to (be) cut after knowing the facts. The problem is in tacitly avoiding the cognitive dissonance and feelings surrounding the subject. The problem is in making an uninformed, permanent choice for another person’s body.

Avoidance of the discomfort of learning things that challenge our current beliefs is how damage, ignorance and stigma get passed on.

TRUUUUST ME; as a bereaved (SUDC) parent, I know very deeply how it feels to have to address a past that doesn’t make sense and hurts and how hard it can be to find a way to carry it into the future. I don’t have regrets about how I mothered Patrick and I’m grateful surgery was never a part of his life, but learning to hold space for things I don’t want to feel is still something I struggle with dailyI’ve been trying to find ways to reinforce the walls of my own damaged bubble since losing him and only recently in therapy have I learned that not only does that bubble exist, but that I need to step out of it, however painful the process- like a Truman Show my head custom made to distract me.

The point is that we’re all guilty of trying to assuage our hearts and justify our actions in the ways we’ve been taught, so it’s doubly important as parents that we learn and model the most healthy, effective ways to process difficulties and change so that we not only help ourselves, but set the best model possible for the future. It’s also important to learn, to grow, to respond to others and ourselves gently– this is how we allow for carefully changing the world into a more loving, informed place. I love thinking of that ripple effect, especially for my children and grandchildren. They don’t deserve the compulsory societal decisions or mistakes of past generations or of our own… they deserve so much more.

Our job as parents is to provide a youth full of empathy and education for the people we create, and to inflict and pass on as little damage as possible in the process so they’re able to survive their childhoods whole and in body, mind, and spirit alike, having gained the tools and experience to make what decisions they see fit. Their bodies, their lives; I just want them to have the knowledge of how to take care of them as well as the ability and authority to, no matter their gender (identity).

I get to why you don’t deserve shaming in this next part, but it’s located post-stars, because it’s important for everyone to read, not just the people who are new/hesitant to the subject. I love you guys. 

*****

Let’s start with the history– this is a super simple video and shouldn’t raise your eyebrows too much.

Most Americans have grown up with circumcision being normalized and even encouraged- many people have never given it a second thought. It’s routine. This means the responsibility of culturally encouraged circumcision doesn’t rest squarely on the parents, which is where I see a divide in the intactivist community. I have seen many women shamed and/or attacked because of their decisions, which rarely procures a positive, more educated outcome. Shaming is a terrible bullying tool that nearly always backfires when attempting to use it to educate our children, ourselves or our peers; acknowledging that it may be present in those who aren’t yet informed requires an empathetic approach.

For those of you struggling with shame for this or any other reason, I encourage you to spend a few minutes here: http://go.ted.com/CE3j.

It’s important for all of us to realize that any implied blame and/or shame of RIC lies in the culture where it’s not “normal” to know or do any better when it comes to routine cosmetic surgery on babies. The blame belongs in the system that encourages ignorance and fear when it comes to circumcision education and that benefits from the cutting of male foreskin. The blame belongs in the society that holds ego over education and in lies in the laps of those that avoid the subject, even for the sake of their sons and of future generations.

To paraphrase Maya Angelou: We do our best, and when we know better, we do better. I want to gently help move the latter along.

So, what makes a foreskin important- and downright awesome?

When a boy is circumcised, so is the man he becomes. Think of the men who are lacking an entire realm of sexual pleasure and function beyond their current magnificent, highly sought after abilities and their partners who could be experiencing that increased pleasure as well. (Seeya, lube! There’s always things things like the TLC Tugger  for men who have been cosmetically altered and are interested in foreskin restoration, but I digress…) There is a supportive and informative post for circumcised men and their partners here.

Almost every penis I’ve ever seen in person or on film is cut. (The latter ratios have changed since learning what I’ve shared here, but I digress…)  It’s completely normalized in America to have an altered penis. The problem is that it shouldn’t be, and we shouldn’t be afraid of obvious, scientifically and rest-of-the-world backed, much needed change in a first world country that’s supposed to be considered one of the most progressive. Why are we so far behind?

Female genital mutilation is already basically seen as universally barbaric- what is the difference between that and the procedure on a male, and why? I don’t know about you, but my clit is one of my very favorite body parts and I can’t and don’t want to imagine (so I get the difficulty in learning about circumcision as a cut male, absolutely) what my life would be like if I knew what I know now and learned someone had cut it off when I was a few days old- or ever, which is exactly what circumcision is on a female. HAHAHAHHAAAAAAA OMG NO. fucking. way. Literally.

Count me in with Jack Black around the 1:00 mark.

I’m not asking you to think in the same way as me, I’m asking that you think about RIC in the first place. We shouldn’t fear education; letting fear, shame, or extremists hold us back from advancing is the opposite of what I’m -and hopefully you’re- about here. At the bottom of this post are some of the best/most logical and well put together links I’ve seen on the subject, plus the most informational video/talk I’ve found so far. Please remember, if you think you are uncomfortable in simply learning about the procedure and the post-effects, consider the millions of baby boys who have suffered through it because so many feel the same and don’t want to be the one to learn or to speak out. 

It is your right and duty to question routine infant circumcision.

How you process the answers that you find, like any other parenting and life decisions, are up to you- but for the sake of future generations, don’t make uninformed ones when it comes to permanently altering a fully functional, useful, sensitive part of your baby’s body.

For further reading:

 

 

profit

research

 

Thanks to Ruthie Davis for help with links, this pic,
for years of defending the rights of American baby boys
and being my very best friend.

Holding Space

19 Feb award

Holding space for my own pain is the hardest part about right now.

It’s
difficult
as
fuck.

I mean, there’s a lot to my current situation, but allowing the sadness of many layers of it to really be felt is highly uncomfortable to say the least. Like, the “not getting out of bed for two days after therapy because broken open and unbearably devastated” type of uncomfortable. It’s good, it’s important, it’s imperative to feel one’s feelings, I get it- but dammit, it’s been 157 fucking Fridays since Patrick died and I’m so tired of hurting. I just want my son and that feeling is never going away… The pain of that knowledge in itself- nevermind feeling it- is overwhelming.

There’s a butterfly effect of mind and heart fuckery after losing Patrick; like the knowledge that I’m going to have an huge, huge ache in my heart until I die. Like the anxiety of wondering if my three other children are going to die in their sleep or find some other tragic end every. day. all. the. time. Like insomnia and dreams that are quite possibly the only more painful thing than reality, like depression because all of it has been so much for so long, like severed ties all over the place because I can’t handle anyone’s anything, least of all my own. The list goes on and on.

And so I find myself ostensibly alone in my struggle despite a slowly growing number of people here and on Facebook who hold space for me, too… Sometimes they’re the only ones who check in or say anything at all. The people directly in my life have lives and troubles of their own and are likely and very understandably tired of dealing with my grief and depression, too. I get it. I totally fucking get it. I’m tired of it, too.

I wish I could just press pause for a moment or plan for a break so I could feel “normal” when I want/need to, in private and social situations alike. My reality is essentially the opposite of that; I have to plan for triggers to come out of nowhere and send me flying, so I end up shadowboxing because staying tense hurts less than not being prepared when a punch comes straight to the gut.

I know that part of me needs to just expose myself to life and the vulnerability and pain that comes with it, but fucking dammit dude… it makes me feel like I’m going to implode from the weight of it all and it’s so hard to move about my life feeling that way. I can acknowledge the toddler section in Target without needing to throw up and rock myself in a corner now, do I get a gold star?

award

You go, girl! High five on a trigger-free day!

The thing is that it’s not the goal to avoid triggers, or to not feel them when they happen- that’s not holding space for myself at all. Triggers are going to happen.  They’re going to happen. Fuck. And when they happen? The best thing to do is to feel them through and not fend off the pain. Fuck, that sucks. Ouch. I feel like I have to walk into war unarmed- but the fight is with myself. I have to not fight. I hate that fact nearly as much as I hate why it’s my reality. So many layers of exasperation and ache, of questions and hurt and I just have to sit with it and digest that reality- talk about heartburn.

But there are people in my life -albeit, a very select few- whom are there for me. I know that, and after 5 weeks on antidepressants, the fog is starting to thin and I can start to see them, and see you here, too. I completely unplugged for a couple of months and I’m attempting to reengage in what ways I can, one text, one post, fifteen anxious thoughts at a time, trying to let the light in through all of the places I’ve been perforated. Like any gaping wound, it needs air to heal, but the air itself, any movement of it at all is alarmingly and brutally sensational. And it just has to happen. Dammit.

Cactus Practice

1 Feb fb_img_1454372799642.jpg

It’s like I can’t remember what happiness looks like.

Well, maybe that’s not it. It looks something like all my living children under my roof and the house a lived-in level of clean, healthy food to eat and access to nature. My bills are paid, my debt is relatively low, my living children are happy, healthy, able-bodied humans- nevermind brilliant, compassionate, creative, big-hearted individuals, I have a rad dog and rad friends. I live in a decent part of town next to a state park in an apartment set up to my style and specifications filled with pictures, pets, plants, and books. That’s the list of what it looks like, but I don’t feel that way. It’s like my brain and heart have lost their ability to communicate.

Having to say “my living children” is why sometimes things feel like they’re being filmed in black and white, set to a soundtrack in a minor key, despite their surface-level appearance. Who would have thought having to add the world “living” would be so painful? I guess that’s the the thing, though. That word is so pungent because it eludes to it’s equal and opposite- my vast, deep love is reflective of such vast, deep pain and just the opposite. I can sit with that, but it doesn’t make the hurt less when it comes- and somehow I’m able to know that deeply in my soul and at the same time, not feel it at all.

When I don’t feel that deep pain, I panic because I know it’s tied to my deep love- and if I’m not feeling one, am I not feeling the other? Do I owe myself or my son that pain? Must it always hurt so much to love? Is it all bound for sudden tragedy? Is it everyone, or just me? Why? Why? Why? My head dances circles around my heart that just sits, staring blankly into the chaos until it falls to pieces again.

But it’s more than just missing Patrick and having no reason for his death. There are multiple people missing in multiple areas of my life contributing to this overwhelming feeling of vacancy. Yes, I miss my son. I have never longed for anything or anyone so much for so long, and the feeling grows daily. I miss him first and foremost, I miss him every day. I see what could and should have been in nearly everything I do and it’s the most bittersweet thing for having ever felt his head on my chest to know the lack of it.

But I miss my dad, too. I miss him so damn much, and often. I wake up in tears about missing him almost as often as I do about Patrick. I miss our relationship. I miss his laugh. I want to ask him questions, to show him things, to tell him what I’ve learned. He loved new gadgets, innovation, creative solutions. He taught me about computers and the internet- he’s the reason I knew how to start blogging, or even what that was in the first place. He was the one I grew up talking to about the little, then eventually big things. He was one of my only mentors.

In my younger years, my dad used to take me camping in his grandfather’s boat that had a little cabin. We slept together on the lake, went fishing when the sun came up and would sit in the silence of the morning, listening to the world awaken. He was one of the only people that just being near was enough for me to feel comfortable and safe. Watching cancer wither his body over the months, which ended up translating to watching him die, felt like my soul was being boiled alive. My pillar of strength gave out while holding my hand- I can still remember the feel of their calloused ridges, of the earth giving out below me to swallow my sinking heart.

I also miss having a partner. I miss having a go-to person around who gives a shit about the little and big things in my life, someone to text memes and things I geek out on, about groceries and what’s going on with the kids. I want someone fall asleep on while I watch Netflix. I want someone else to take out the damn garbage sometimes. Okay, my kids help out with chores, but still… I miss the intimacy of companionship with someone who understands and wants the best for me. In short: despite my circle of friends and readers, I’m fucking lonely.

I did it to myself, though. I get that. I don’t think I could stand another heartache right now if I formed an attachment and something else tragic happened. I can’t stand one tiny breath more of ache in my heart. At all. I can’t. I’ve had deep betrayal after deep betrayal when it comes to romantic relationships and I’m not sure I even have the ability to connect anymore, honestly. I’m stuck always waiting for the other shoe to drop because I have lost every important male in my life (save two of my sons) over the span of four years, and unexpectedly each time. I imagine that’s why I’ve a series of 10 foot spiked poles around my heart.

I need a hug- but I also don’t want anyone to touch me. Being touched, or even in the presence of others is not relaxing to me- it tends to make my skin crawl, for the most part. Fucking prickliness. I need to find a way to connect through my cactus space while time and self care soften the edges. I feel disconnected from myself and everything else and it’s a problem that exacerbates itself, calcifying layers of “See? I told you you and your life are too much…” over the spines every time they’re effective. Grief is so fucked up.

It’s more than that even, now, though. I’ve got anxiety through the roof and was also recently diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder/Clinical Depression. I just started therapy again two weeks ago and am trying meds for the second time. Originally, I had pride about being able to cope without them- pride only made possible because there are people like the me now, who need them. I’m sorry, old self- and my apologies to anyone else who felt even mildly shamed by my unrecognized privilege of a brain that can cope using only alternative therapies and hippie shit. Good for you, old self- and fuck you and your shades of flippant callousness a little, too. Still, I forgive you for what you hadn’t learned… Progress, I guess. Something.

The third anniversary of Patrick’s death is in a week and I have retroactive anxiety about it, exacerbated by Timehop and Facebook’s new “on this day” feature. I know I don’t have to look, but I can’t help but analyze everything and visually take in every living moment left. The crumbs on his shirt, the messy house, his gorgeous lashes, the shine of drool on his little Danish chin. Oh, for the skidoo powers Steve and Blue have.

But I can’t go back like my heart wants to so badly. I want to… I want him, I want him, I want him. I’d give anything for a Tardis, a time machine, a minute with that child in my arms. I want Patrick back so much that it’s consuming my life- which I suppose is understandable, but I still have to be a (single) parent… and more importantly, I need to take care of myself so that I can do that, so that I’m happy. From that space, I can then be a good role model for my kids and be able write to myself in another three years from a much improved space as the person I need for myself now. I need to finish my Bereavement Doula training. I need to focus on healing.

I have a lot of deeply painful, difficult work ahead of me and I don’t even know how or what to do. I haven’t found a single resource aside from Dr. Joanne Cacciatore‘s blog that really resonates with my experience- I’m open for input and have my own page on grief resources here and collection of posts on Pinterest here and Facebook here. Even my last poem was about feeling isolated in my grief. There’s a lot of placation, a lot of religion, a lot of woo out there and I’m still searching for and carving out my grief path through these woods that have now become so densely fogged with depression. But I’m able to see it’s a forest now, despite all these damn trees.

At least I’ve written something, though this post has taken weeks. I’ve since gone to the doctor, gone to therapy, started meds, taken a few walks. It’s been months (or years) since I’ve done some of those things, so I’ll give myself some credit there. Depression, anxiety, grief… they’re an unholy trinity of doom, the fuckers. But I see them now and I’m trying not to feed them anymore, though many of my habits are set to. There’s nothing I can do about Patrick or my dad aside from learn how to carry that sadness and ache with grace. What I can do is focus on myself and somehow learning how to live again, which I’m failing miserably at now.

I’m here. I’m trying. It counts.
Fuck, this sucks.
Here goes, one tiny victory at a time.

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With a harmonic defiance I’ll face this.

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